Content Planning - How to Create the Videos Core Message

In this power page chapter, we'll talk with Arnie McKinnis, digital marketing advisor and owner of A. McKinnis & Associates, a product marketing consulting company.

Q: Please tell us about what you do, Arnie.

What I do right now is I have a marketing company. I do consulting and advising on products, primarily. My background is product marketing, and not necessarily corporate marketing. So anything I talk about is really from a very strategic or tactical view of how you market a product or a service. My background is primarily technology; software services, 90% of it has been B2B and a majority of that has been in either business to enterprise, or enterprise to enterprise. So a lot of products that I have marketed in the past have very large, multi-hundred million dollar annual revenue type of products.

See the full interview with Arnie McKinnis below:

Q: Could you give us an example of the type of products?

As an example, I spent a combination of about fifteen years with EDS and then HP Enterprise Services. One of the things I did early on was that we created an in-user outsourcing service. I helped manage that for several years and then I moved on – primarily to newer services. One of the latest services was around how do you outsource the whole service integration aspect of a large IT organization. That is, how do you manage vendors, how do you integrate all these cloud services together, how do you make sure there's not a lot of shadow support products out there, how do you consolidate that. That ended up being about a hundred million dollars in annual revenue for HP Enterprise.

Q: How do you see video playing the part in marketing the products you work with today?

I managed a grouping of services, but we had industry marketing, we had account-based marketing, and we also had regional marketing. Between those four aspects we created a full go-to-market plan. Many times what would be driven is a vision for an account, a very large account was maybe trying to expand, how they were doing business with us, what were they doing business with. The account would come to us and say: "Hey, look, we think your product is a good fit for our plan next year, how can we market that?" And in some cases, we'd take existing video content. We did some live video, some chalk talk type stuff, some flash video. What we do is go back and look at it all raw and then recompile things specifically; in this case, it might be an account or a region that comes to us. If it's a region, we need to redo the voice or the language. We were always driving to do what is required both for a particular client, because we did a lot of account-based marketing, but also what's required for the product itself. The product was usually released on a world-wide basis, so we would do the global, general stuff and then we would drive down into more details as either interest built or regional interest built with an account.

HP Enterprise chalk talk example:

Q: These products you were selling were fairly sophisticated; was the video content educational-based or sales-based?

A lot of the video itself was primarily client-facing, so mostly go-to-market, and then we would have a library of generalized videos that were either based upon webinars or training or something else that was recorded, that was for sales enablement or sales training. But those would not be client facing and not be released to the marketplace. Those were all internal.

Q: What were the marketing goals that you formed to measure success for these campaigns?

When we first started this, it was more about awareness – how's it being used, why it is being used. As we got a little bit more sophisticated, we could create the analytics from how many times it has been viewed, downloaded etc.We had specific goals to achieve, primarily they were revenue goals and indoor penetration goals. We did lots of analyses on the back side to determine what we believed was the available market to us. I usually did 3-year goals, because stuff changes too quickly. Also, enthusiasm within our own customer base would change.

Q: When building a marketing strategy, how did you redistribute the budget and was there an expected outcome on the budget?

In some cases, there was a certain subset of base materials that we created for every product available. That way, you get a little bit more efficient with everything you create. One of the things we had was two or three flash-type presentations that were part of our marketing set. We would leverage that as we would go to trade shows, and sales people would leverage those in sales presentations. We would leverage those in any kind of customer presentations or analyst presentations we did, any kind of market outreach that was more generalized.

Q: The videos you talked about, were they an introduction to the products?


Q: So, it's not a brand building as such?


Q: Would you classify them as explainer or promotional videos? Is there a particular class that you would give them?

Our goal with these was to create two or three levels. One would be a general "what is it“ video in two or three minutes, one would be a little bit more technical and specifically geared from a language perspective to who I would consider operational or technical people, as opposed to the executive level. It's because we needed to comunicate to multiple levels within the IT organization. We would try to create a grouping of these two- to three-minute videos that would allow us to explain what the service was to a specific group. Then, as either an account or region came to us and wanted more information, we could point them to or create a book of content through them to present the topics that were relevant.

HP Enterprise commercial:

Q: Are the levels you're talking about a kind of a stepping stone for a customer? Was the first video to let them know a bit more about it and the second one more technical, or are they two completely separate groups?

We tried to create an explainer, an introduction video for the business side. Then we would create a explainer for the technical side and then another explainer if we needed it for the operational side. So one person might look at all of those or a person might look at just one of those. Those videos were leveraged in the beginning part of investigational research in that path. A lot of what we did later on was based upon face to face, yellow pad or chalk talk type sessions, where we would get people in rooms and they would talk through things. Our video was primarily used for two aspects: usually at that very first part and then we would do a few deeper dive videos, potentially for larger organizations. We might video a webinar like this and provide it to them, either through our servers or through a specific website, but that would be pure account-based marketing.

Q: Were these videos used for lead generation or were they sent to people who were already clients?

80% of what we did was not necessarily pure lead generation, because there wasn't a need to generate leads. We had a very defined market. Our market was literally the top five thousand organizations in the world.

Q: How did you come up with the idea that you have to create videos for each department?

When I first started in the mid-nineties, EDS had their own production studio. They also had a closed CCTV network where you could broadcast out our webinars. Even back then, I would sit more in front of a teleprompter and do recorded, live trainings. They have had that for lots of years. We started moving towards two things. First, when we got enough bandwidth to allow flash to actually be worthwhile, we started using more flash presentations. Our next thing was that we got more into account-based marketing which kicked off in mid-2000's. It was then that we started doing more raw video: a lot less edited, someone standing in front of a white board in a conference room, etc.

Q: It sounds like because the company's growing, you would take on bigger and more complex clients in order to fulfill their requirements through video, rather than making something that's high production and just getting right down to the specifics in marketing, is that correct?

In account-based marketing, you have a very specific target and a company. EDS and HP Enterprise Services had very long sale cycles. Sometimes for up to 24 months for some of the larger deals. During those months, you have to figure out ways to both get relevant information out, engage your audience and find a way to quickly update lots of different people around the world. We could do that much more easily with raw video. It would allow us to take a snapshot of a yellow pad session and give it to the client and say to him that he can show it to whomever he feel needs to have that information. In that way, they propagate the video. It would allow us to get a specific message that was relevant in time to our client.

Q: How were the ideas for the content of the videos for each department coordinated?

We would have a video product or a piece of content that we would make specifically for our service. Some of the videos were along those lines. Some of the videos were discretionary videos, where we had the budget to do something different. In that case, we would create the project outline, work with counterparts in marketing communications, the digital marketing world, they would engage with vendors and then we'd start having the full planning sessions.

Q: Did you ever take on any bootstrap ideas or take strategies that startup companies would use?

I was in the first wave of creating our first Facebook and Twitter page and Youtube channel. But after doing it for a while, we realized we won't get any value if we talk to people like an authority figure. That's when we started doing little snippets of either chalk talks or a few more of the interview videos. We were trying to do things more raw and not edited, just captured and put out.

Q: So, it was about maintaining a voice and communication to your audience and always having new content come out?

I think that large companies were always challenged in how to balance risk with immediacy. I had to go through the training in how to talk to the public, that whole PR team, because they wanted to eliminate all that risk.A lot of companies don't care as much today as they did before. There's a lot less risk than they thought there was five or ten years ago in branching out and doing some of these things.

Q: Would you say there's more freedom in publishing a video online?

I now do independent consulting and advising, but what I have seen over the last two or three years is a much more open attitude. They're still tethered to the company, but they can branch out further than they used to. A lot of what we're seeing now is just a reflection of what people already think of you. If we're not open and don't reflect back what people are telling us with all of our content, I think we're doing a disservice.

Q: What message regarding marketing online could you share with small businesses?

Enterprises have a tendency to be a risk at first. If I was talking to a small business or a medium size business, and they're trying to get out there, I'd say be more aggressive. It's better to be too fast than too slow. From a competitive standpoint, your primary competing weapon is the fact that you're speedier and quicker. Don't be afraid to stand up. Don't be afraid to make a bold statement and then stand behind it and push it forward. But it's not likely that big businesses will take that kind of risk because they have a broad customer set.

Q: What would be your advice for typical entrepreneurs who have a set budget and maybe some funding, yet they do want to take the risks, but are not sure if they are able to afford to?

From my standpoint, even if my company is one product, you still have to separate your company marketing, this is me, the company versus how do I market the products. People spend money for a product at the end of the day. It comes down to a customer journey. If I'm a small company, and I don't have time to get down to the nitty-gritty, I still need to think through at a high level how somebody becomes aware of my product and why are they becoming aware of it. Is it because we're in a hot market or because of some trigger events or business networking sites?

Once they become aware, you have to map it out, whether it is a short, medium or a long sale. Later I have to know if someone wants to see a demo or see me face to face. You think about how that education process happens in the middle and how do you get to the close. But eventually, you have to say that it's time to pull your money out of your pocket and buy my product. I think that all you have is three steps, from becoming aware all the way to when they pull the money out of their pocket.

You have to write those down and start matching up your go-to-market activities to that. It is crucial to know the path and how you move people from stepping stone to stepping stone until they finally make the sale.Finally, it doesn't have to be detailed like a to-do list; I've got to do content marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, email marketing, etc. All that's fine, but those are tactical pieces. If you haven't figured out who your customer is, how you need to talk to them, how they're going to progress along a buying path, then it doesn't really matter.

At the end, you're going to do a lot of things that are maybe irrelevant because your customer isn't on Youtube. And don't do it on a company level. Your company is irrelevant to a certain degree. It's your product that matters.

We hope our interview with Arnie helped you in giving guidelines on how to develop your business and how to hit your marketing goals. For any further information, you can visit Arnie's website and get in touch with him.

Jason Smith Sheds Light on Adding Message into Your Video Marketing Strategy

We chatted with Jason Smith, the director of photography for Subtle Visions, which is a video production company based in Detroit. Subtle Visions enhances brands for individuals, products and services that need to express who they are and what they do. They’ve worked with Radio One, WDIV, Channel 4 and Oakland Community College. Jason spoke with us about how to add message into your video to achieve your marketing strategy goals.

See the full interview with Jason Smith below:

Q: What are the most important things to consider when creating a message?

One of the first things you should understand is who the audience is. Know who you’re speaking to. You don’t want to speak to everybody because everybody is not your client. You should target a specific niche.

Q: How do you find out who the audience is? Do clients come to you with an audience in mind or do you come up with that for them?

It’s best to do some research on the business yourself and learn who they cater to. The client may not narrow it down. Some clients just ask for a general video. You may have to do some of the work yourself and assist them in learning about their demographic and how to reach them. Find out the company’s mission statement and think about the age range of the individuals they might want to speak to. Are they business savvy? Do they market to businesses or consumers?

Q: How do you know what to say to the audience you’re targeting?

Through the video, you want to verbalize the mission statement in a way that’s conversational. Use visuals in relation to that statement and use repetition. Re-iterate your message in different ways.

Q: Do you have any tips for persuading the audience?

A lot of things you watch on television, for example on the History Channel or National Geographic, are very mellow in what they advertise on their own network, but when they’re advertising on other networks they’re more up-tempo and concise. That’s key. Whenever you advertise with video on social media or anywhere that’s not your website, it’s best to get to the point fast and hammer it in down in different ways. It’s also important to get as many shots as you can.

Q: What advice do you have for businesses with small budgets who are inspired by big company advertisements?

Emotional connection is the most important thing. When people feel like they’re being drawn in just to buy something, a lot of people shut it out. The Chrysler commercial Eminem did for the Super Bowl was set in Detroit and it was very dramatic. The words, the voice, and the music got my attention because I’m from Detroit. That’s how I was pulled in to receive more information from the ad.

Q: Can you give an example of how you’ve tried to make an emotional connection with a target market?

The book trailers I did are supposed to be dramatic. When making those, I thought about good music, good shots and good timing. Those three things together create good drama. Our emotions are attached to our senses. The music is important and what we’re seeing at the same time is important. In movie trailers, you hear three different songs and the story of the movie is pieced together to match those songs. That makes you want to see the movie. You want to dictate that in the process of putting a piece together.

Q: Do you think it’s possible to achieve these goals without sound?

It’s hard to say. The music is one of the first things I think about. The audio is the most important part.

Q: So audio is more important than the video?

Audio is the most important part of the video.

Q: What are some things you look for when choosing the timing?Is it something you see or something you hear?

It’s based on getting the attention of the audience. Ask yourself what needs to be said to get their attention. Once you do that, you can begin to persuade or humor them. There’s no real formula. It’s based on what you’re advertising and how the video goes.

Q: What are the different strategies to getting your message across?

I would say build a brand first. A lot of clients look at video and say, “I would like to use this service to establish who I am.” But it’s difficult to really establish yourself unless this is something you intend to put on the head of your website. It’s important to have a brand before you begin; a social media presence, a strong website or a lot of traffic, for example. When people create videos, there needs to be someone to show them to. There are ways to get an audience without video. Blogging is an option. You can get attention and climb the ladder to establish yourself further. That way when your video comes out, you’re catering to someone already. It’s important that you have a presence in some shape or form and know where your market is.

Q: How did you get into the industry and what made you want to get into it?

It’s funny because I can’t remember what was going on in my life. I went to a friend’s wedding and I was just recording scenes from the wedding with my phone. That night I was lying in bed putting the video together in iMovie and my wife said, “You should go to school for that.” That got me thinking about Specs Howard School of Media Arts. I was already doing sports podcasting so I was in the media field already. One of my buddies who went through the program told me that anything you do in radio, you’ll learn it doing video. Video is the future of the internet. This was seven years ago. I went through the program, excelled in it and it gave me a foundation. After graduation, I started working in film,stopped podcasting, and started doing this full time.